Austria to See Early Election After Scandal
VIENNA — The Latest on Austrian politics (all times local):
Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz has called for an early election after his vice chancellor resigned over a covertly shot video that showed him apparently promising government contracts to a prospective Russian investor.
Kurz said he would ask President Alexander Van der Bellen to set a date for a new election “as soon as possible.”
Vice Chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache, head of the far-right, anti-immigrant Freedom Party which is in Kurz’s ruling coalition, had resigned earlier Saturday, a day after the video was published.
The video hit a nerve amid broader concerns about ties between Russia and right-wing populist parties critical of the European Union.
Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz says frustration with his far-right coalition partners’ behavior was behind his decision to call for a new election.
Kurz said Saturday that he and his right-wing People’s Party “had to endure much” from the anti-immigration Freedom Party, the junior member of his governing coalition. Kurz called for the early poll after his vice chancellor, Freedom Party chief Heinz-Christian Strache, resigned. Two German publications had released video showing Strache apparently promising government contracts to a purported Russian investor at a villa on Ibiza.
Kurz cited his partners’ “closeness to radical right-wing groups” as well as “the rat poem” written by a Freedom Party city official in a party newspaper that compared migrants to rats. The official resigned amid public disgust and criticism from Kurz.
Kurz said in his statement calling for new elections that “enough is enough.”
Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz has called for an early election after the resignation of his vice chancellor spelled an end to his governing coalition.
Vice chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache resigned Saturday after two German publications showed video of him apparently offering government contracts to a purported Russian investor.
Kurz said he could not reach an agreement with the leadership of Strache’s anti-immigrant Freedom Party on carrying forward the coalition with his center-right People’s Party.
He also said a possible coalition with the Social Democrats would not permit the Austrian government to carry out its policies of limiting debt and taxes.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has spoken out against “right-wing populism” following a scandal involving Austria’s vice chancellor apparently offering government contracts to an allegedly wealthy Russian woman.
Speaking Saturday with Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic in Zagreb, Merkel said the EU had to “stand up decisively” to populists and accused right-wing parties of “corruptibility.”
Merkel spoke ahead of the elections to the European Parliament that are being held Thursday through Sunday. Nationalist and populist movements critical of the 28-country European Union are contesting the election against mainstream center-right and center-left parties that want more European cooperation and integration.
Austrian vice chancellor Heinz-Chritian Strache resigned Saturday after two German publications published video of him apparently promising a Russian investor government contracts in return for her purchasing a newspaper and supporting his anti-immigrant Freedom Party.
Austria is waiting for a statement from Chancellor Sebastian Kurz about the future of the country’s government after his vice chancellor and coalition partner Heinz-Christian Strache resigned in a covert video scandal.
Strache quit Saturday after two German newspapers published footage of him apparently offering lucrative government contracts to a potential Russian benefactor.
The resignation raises the question of whether Kurz and his center-right People’s Party will take a replacement in the cabinet from Strache’s anti-immigrant Freedom Party and continue their coalition. Alternatively, Kurz could call a new election.
Kurz was expected to speake after 3 p.m. (1300 GMT) the APA news agency reported.
Meanwhile, several thousand government opponents demonstrated on Vienna’s Ballhausplatz in front of the chancellor’s office.
Austrian vice chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache says he is resigning after two German newspapers published footage of him apparently offering lucrative government contracts to a potential Russian benefactor.
Strache said Saturday in a statement before assembled journalists that he was illegally set up in a “political assassination,” but added his behavior in the video was “stupid and a mistake.”
The scandal has led to speculation about the future of the governing coalition between Strache’s anti-immigration Freedom Party and Chancellor Sebastian Kurz’s center-right People’s Party.
Austria’s vice chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache is expected to make a statement about his political future after two German newspapers published footage of him apparently offering lucrative government contracts to a potential Russian benefactor.
The dpa news agency reported Saturday Strache was expected to address the issue at a news conference at noon local time (1000 GMT) Saturday.
The scandal has led to speculation about the future of the governing coalition between Strache’s anti-immigration Freedom Party and Chancellor Sebastian Kurz’s center-right People’s Party. Neither Strache nor Kurz have commented publicly.
The daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung and the weekly Der Spiegel on Friday published extracts of covert video purportedly showing Strache offering government contracts to an unnamed Russian woman if she were to buy an Austrian newspaper and support his party.Your support matters…
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